Why Winter Tires Trump All-Wheel Drive

Really want to get there safely when it’s slippery out? Get more grip with dedicated winter tires.

The next time you’re driving in the snow (or you’re visiting somewhere it snows), have a look at the vehicles you see in the ditch: Odds are a lot of them have all-wheel drive. What’s behind this perverse outcome for people who expected their car to get them where they wanted to go in sloppy conditions? It’s probably their tires.

No doubt, all-wheel drive helps you accelerate more quickly when traction is scarce. “But really, you should be considering your ability to stop and corner in snow,” says Gene Petersen, who oversees tire testing for Consumer Reports. And all-wheel drive does nothing to help with that. Yes, antilock brakes and stability control (standard in all cars since 2012) can be useful at keeping you on the road, but only up to a point.

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David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for Kiplinger.com. With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.